Search update – blog alert. This is me getting my head together. More for me than you out there. Sorry.
So about a month left. To find long lost half siblings – from my Mother’s side. Haven’t even begun on search for Father and his side yet. That’ll have to wait I think.
It’s easy to get down hearted on this journey. When things don’t go the way you want.
Yesterday Lucy asked me if I was excited as we made our way to HK Immigration Offices, (also where you register Births, Marriages and Deaths etc. and get results of searches). I replied something along the lines of “I have learnt, on this kind of journey, it’s best not to get too excited, to avoid disappointment”. I’m not sure this is a good strategy for the whole of life, but I’m sticking to it for this particular part of mine, for now. On an upside, if you’re a pining nai nai (paternal grandmother), this is a great place to go to. One counter for searching for birth records and fifteen for registering births. A Waiting room full of parents and grandparents with at least 9 new born babies. I had a lovely time looking at each one, they all looked so different, swaddled, and in slings. Some parents/grandparents very eager to show their latest offspring to me, others shielding their babes from weird excitable foreigner’s prying eyes. I imagined my Mother taking me to be registered, though realised I was about 3 months old, and outside the given timeframe for registration, and actually very lucky to be registered when I found out the following:
Winnie had applied to search for my eldest brother’s and my two sisters’ birth certificates. But when we got there – zilch. No trace. It appears my Mother and her first husband didn’t register any of them. The lady who gave us the results of the search said this was quite common. My Mother, illiterate, and the children’s Father, a farmer, most likely had more urgent matters to attend to. (I haven’t begun to tot up the amount I’ve spent on records search, births and deaths, and of course you have to pay, even when the search reveals nothing, which stings just a little. Eeek)
So, my strategy is as follows :
1. NOTICE WHAT’S GOING/GONE WELL
Before I came out to Hong Kong I knew :
My Mother’s birth name. That she had put a man’s name who was not my father, on my birth certificate.When and Where I was born. Why I was given up for adoptionThe last known address for my MotherThat I had half siblings, from both my Mother’s and Father’s side
And now :
I have visited my birth place twice. Once alone, and once with Martin and LucyI have visited the last known address for my Mother
So I have possibly walked in her footsteps. I have seen the kind of ‘hut’ I may have been born in and she may have lived in.
I have met with Priscilla the adoption case worker and now know:
There is a BIG file on my adoption case, that I was told previously did not exist.
Where my Mother came from in mainland China.
She was born around 1920. Married aged 18.
She was an illiterate housewife
Her first husband was a farmer and died of natural causes aged 48
I was my Mother’s seventh child. She had me when she was around 40.
My birth father left her in extreme poverty. A village Chief helped her by giving her rice and taking her to Yuen Long to put me into Po Leung Kuk orphanage
Two of her children died I had two surviving half brothers, and two surviving half sisters. One brother was also given for adoption, probably to a local family as not adopted formally as I was.
My eldest brother is approx 69. I have his name.
My sisters 61 and 66. I have one sister’s name
My 61 year old sister was also given up for adoption but cried so much she was returned to my Mother
My Mother died aged 78 in March 1997, in Prince Edward hospital, of a brain haemorrhage and one of my sisters signed her death certificate.
I have that sister’s address in 1997, very near to where I am staying in Sha Tin.
Plus, and very important, I have had hundreds of messages of support, good wishes, suggestions, advice from friends and strangers at home and here. In response to a FB post on the Hong Kong in the 60s group and the TV/press campaign Winnie organised. Whilst I haven’t found anybody yet, this is extraordinary. It feels like each message comes together to make a wave of support carrying me to my destination. I have know idea yet what that destination is, but the ride on the wave is phenomenal. Quite literally like being bathed in and carried along on love. Thank you, you’ll not know much it means and how it is sustaining me in this up and down search story.
I have now Winnie’s unofficial helper. Trying to help other adoptees and families seeking to be reunited. Winnie is overloaded and doesn’t have time to read all the postings on relevant sites. So I am feeding anything that may be useful to her. This feels good.
2. NEXT STEPS
Winne has made an application to the Red Cross Root Tracing Service to liaise with my half sister if she is still at the address given in 1997.Sadly it appears to be a public housing, very poor estate, and my google search revealed a high number of suicides from the flats on the estate. Suicide is a big problem here in Hong Kong. Not just amongst the poor, but disproportionately high for university students too.
I am talking with Winnie about me writing my own letter to my sister and Winnie translating it for me. Perhaps hand delivering it. From Winnie’s experience in root tracing, some found families/individuals do not want to meet up, for a variety of reasons. Long buried family secrets, possible shame. Some may not even know a child was adopted. Softly softly, but there is now a growing urgency for me.
I have written to Priscilla who has access to the very big file. As my Mother is dead and I have the death certificate, the privacy laws applying to documents pertaining to her no longer apply.
3. APPLICATION FOR Hong Kong ID
Probably mentioned that you have to apply to be authorised to apply! Received a letter asking for some more documents. Just as with my Chinese Visa application which took 4 attempts, this feels very bureaucratic. But I succeeded with that, and I will keep going wth this. A trip with said documents to Wan Chai this afternoon.
Haha, if any of you got to here, I owe you a beer (Martin) x